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 A Reading from the Isha Upanishad


The Self is one, unmoving, swifter than the mind. 

The senses lag, but the It moves ahead. 

Unmoving, it outruns pursuers. 

It being there, Air[1] supports all activities.


Unmoving, it moves.

It is far away, yet near.

It is within all, it is outside all.


Whoever sees all beings in the Self

and the Self in all beings

by virtue of that knows no sorrow.

For the one who knows,

in whom all beings have become the Self,

how can there be delusion or grief

when one sees that oneness?


The Self is everywhere, bodiless, shapeless,

whole, pure, wise, all-knowing, bright shining,

self-depending, all transcending,

eternally arranging all things according to their nature.




A Reading from the Bhagavad Gita


You are entitled to perform works,

but not at all to their fruits.

The fruit of your work should not be your motive;

nor should you be attached to inaction.


Follow discipline[2] and perform your works with detachment,

even-minded in success and failure.

Discipline means even-mindedness.

For a work performed with a selfish motive

is far inferior to the discipline of even-mindedness.

Seek refuge in evenness of mind.

Wretched are those whose incentive is results.


Those with even-mindedness

renounce the fruit of actions and enter the state of bliss.

When your mind fully crosses this mire of delusion,

you will no longer worry about

the enjoyments of this world or the next

that the Scriptures have taught you or will teach you.

When your meditating mind––

now bewildered by conflicting views––

stands firm and undistracted in meditation on God,

then you will attain discipline.




A Reading from the Tao Te Ching


The Tao[3] that can be told

is not the immortal tao.

The name that can be named

is not the immortal name.


The origin of heaven and earth has no name.

The mother of the ten thousand things has a name.


Thus in innocence we see the mystery;

in passion we see the manifestations.

Two different names for one and the same.

The one we call dark––the dark beyond dark––

the door to all mystery!




A Reading from the Samyutta Nikaya


The  Buddha said,

                “And I discovered that profound truth, so difficult to perceive, difficult to understand, tranquillizing an sublime, which is not to be gained by mere reasoning, and is visible only to the wise.

                “The world however, is given to pleasure, delighted with pleasure, enchanted with pleasure.  Truly, such beings will hardly understand the law of conditionality, the dependent origination of everything.  Yet other are being whose eyes are only a little covered with dust: they will understand the truth.”


                What now is the Noble Truth of Suffering?

                Birth is suffering; decay is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering; not to get what one desires is suffering; in short the five groups of existence are suffering.

                What now is the Noble Truth of the origin of suffering?

                It is craving, which . . . bound up with pleasure and lust, now here, now there, finds ever-fresh delight.  But where does this craving arise and take root?  Wherever in the world there are delightful and pleasurable things, there this craving rises and takes root.  Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind are delightful and pleasurable: there this craving arises and takes root.[4]



A Reading from the Dhammapada


Mind is the forerunner of all actions.

All deeds are led by the mind, created by the mind.

If one speaks or acts with a corrupt mind, suffering follows,

as the wheel follows the hoof of an ox pulling a cart.


Mind is the forerunner of all actions.

All deeds are led by the mind, created by the mind.


If one speaks or acts with a serene mind happiness follows,

as surely as one’s shadow.


Animosity does not eradicate animosity.

Only by loving kindness is animosity dissolved.

This law is ancient and eternal.


There are those who are aware

that they are always facing death.

Knowing this they put aside all quarrels.

(1:1-2, 5-6)[5]



A Reading from the Book of Genesis


In the day that the Lord God made the heavens and the earth, when no plant of the field had yet sprung up––for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground––then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.




From the Saying of the Hasidim


Before the soul enters the air of this world, it is conducted through all the worlds.  Last of all, it is shown the first light which once––when the world was created––illumined all things, and which God removed when humankind grew corrupt.  Why is the soul shown this light?  So that, from that hour on, it may yearn to attain the light, and approach it rung by rung in its life on earth.  And those who reach it, the zaddikim––into them the light enters, and out of them it shines into the world again.  That is the reason it was hidden.[6]



A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him, and he taught them saying:


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”




From the Proslogion of Saint Anselm


Escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts.  Break of your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors.  Make a little time for God and rest a while in him.

                Enter your mind’s inner chamber.  Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek God; and when you have shut the door, look for him.  Speak now to God and say with your whole heart:  I seek your face; your face, Lord, I desire.

                Teach me to seek you, and when I seek you show yourself to me, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, or can I find you unless you show yourself to me.  Let me seek you in desiring you and desire you in seeking you, find you in loving you and love you in finding you.

(Cap. 1: Opera omnia)



From the poems of Rumi


O pure people who wander the world,

amazed at the idols you see,

what you are searching for out there,

if you look within, you yourself are it.


O tribe, more beautiful than moonlight,

how can you tolerate your muddy existence?

You have drowned yourself in the tavern,

wake up!  It is day.  Why are you asleep?

(Rubaiyat #549, 561)[7]



From Deliverance from Error by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali


I came to regard the various seekers (after truth) as comprising four groups: the mutakallimun–theologians, who claim that they are exponents of thought and intellectual speculation; the batiniyah, who consider that they, as the party of ta‘lim–authoritative instruction, alone derive truth from the infallible imam; the philosophers, who regard themselves as the exponents of logic and demonstration; the Sufis or mystics, who claim that they alone enter into the “presence” of God, and possess vision and intuitive understanding.


I said within myself: “The truth cannot lie outside these four classes.  These are the people who treat the path of the quest for truth.  If the truth is not with them, no point remains in trying to apprehend the truth.  There is certainly no point in trying to return to the level of naïve and derivative belief once it has been left, since a condition of being at such a level is that one should know one is there; when someone comes to now that, the glass of naïve beliefs is broken.[8]  This is a breakage which cannot be mended, a breakage that is not reapired by patching or by assembling of fragments.  The glass must be melted once again in the furnace for a new start, and out of it another fresh vessel formed.”

(Part Three, #1)[9]



From the Prayers of the Sikhs


It is not through thought that God is to be comprehended

though  we strive to grasp him a hundred thousand times;

nor by outer silence and deep meditation

can the inner silence be reached;

nor is our hunger for God appeasable by piling up world-loads of wealth.

All the innumerable devices of worldly wisdom

leave a person disappointed; not one avails.

How then shall we know the Truth?

How shall we tear the veils of untruth away?

Abide by God’s will and make his will, O Nanak,

that is written in your heart, your own.

(Morning Prayer #1)


A Reading from the Isha Upanishad


Those who worship ignorance go to pitch darkness,

but to a greater darkness than this

go those who are devoted to knowledge.

Different indeed, they say, is the result attained by knowledge

and different indeed, they say, is the result attained by ignorance.

Thus have we heard from the wise who have explained it to us.

Those who know both knowledge and ignorance together,

transcend mortality through ignorance

and reach immortality through knowledge.


Those who worship the unmanifested go to pitch darkness,

but to a greater darkness than this

go those who are devoted to the manifested.

Different indeed, they say, is the result attained by the worship of the manifested

and different indeed, they say, is the result attained by the worship of the


Thus have we heard from the wise who have explained it to us.

Those who know both the manifested and the destructible together,

transcend death by the worship of the destructible

and attain immortality by the worship of the manifested.


The face of the Truth is concealed in a golden vessel.

Reveal it, O Sun, to my sight who has truth for its dharma.

O nourisher, pilgrim of the solitude,

controller, absorber of all rasas, offspring of Prajapati,

cast away your rays, gather them up.

May I see the light that is your most graceful form.

That one––the Purusha––I am.


Let my vital air now attain the immortal Air;

then let this body be reduced to ashes.


OM!  O mind, remember––remember that which has been done,

O mind, remember––remember that which has been done!




A Reading from the Bhagavad Gita


When one thoroughly casts off all cravings of the mind,

and is satisfied with the Self through the joy of the Self,

that one is then called stable of mind.


The wise, whose minds remain unperturbed amid sorrows,

whose thirst for pleasures has altogether disappeared,

and who are free from passion, fear and anger,

are called stable of mind.

Those who are not attached to anything,

and meeting with good and evil neither rejoice not recoil,

their minds are stable.

When they withdraw all their senses from the sense-objects,

like a tortoise that draws its limbs from all directions,

their mind becomes steady.

The realm of the Sense objects recedes

for those who do not enjoy them,

though a taste for them persists.

This also disappears when they realize the Supreme.

Even the wise who exert themselves to attain perfection

have senses that harass them and carry away their minds.




A Reading from the Tao Te Ching


Under heaven all can see beauty only because there is ugliness.

All can know good as good only because there is evil.


Thus the co-arising of having and not having,

the complementarity of difficult and easy,

the contrast of long and short,

codependence of high and low,

the harmony of note and noise,

the dance of front and back.


Therefore, the wise go about doing nothing,

and teach without talking.

The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,

creating yet not possessing,

working yet not taking credit.

Work is done, then forgotten,

lasting forever.




A Reading from the Samyutta Nikaya


                What, now, is the Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering?

                It is the complete fading away and extinction of this craving, its forsaking and abandonment, liberation and detachment from it.  The extinction of greed, the extinction of hate, the extinction of delusion: this, indeed, is called Nirvana.

                And for a disciple thus freed, in whose heart dwells peace, there is nothing to be added to what has been done, and naught more remains to do.  Just as a rock of one solid mass remains unshaken by the wind, even so neither forms, nor sounds, nor odors, nor taste, nor contacts of any kind, neither the desired nor the undesired can cause such a one to waver; one is steadfast in mind, gained is deliverance.[10]



A Reading from the Dhammapada


Those who fail to distinguish

the nonessential from the essential

and the essential from the nonessential,

will, in feeding wrong thoughts,

fail to attain the essential.


On the other hand, those who correctly perceive

the essential as essential

and the non essential as nonessential

will, in feeding on right thoughts,

attain the essential.


A rain pours on badly thatched houses,

so does desire penetrate the undeveloped mind.


As rain fails to pour through a well-thatched house,

so does desire fail to penetrate the well-developed mind.




A Reading from the Book of Genesis


Jacob took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the (river) Jabbok.  He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything he had.  Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacobs hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”  But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  So he said to him, “What is your name?”  And he said, “Jacob.”  Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”  Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”  But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?”  And there he blessed him.  So Jacob called the place Peniel (that is, “the face of God”), saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”




From the Sayings of the Hasidim


It is written: “The tree of life is also in the midst of the garden.”  Whenever we study or pray, we should think that we are in the garden of paradise, where there is no envy and no lust or pride, and we will surely be safe from distraction.  But how can we think in this way, since we know that we are in this world and among people we are acquainted with?  This is how: when we study or pray with reverence and devoutness begotten of love, and fasten and bind our spirit to God and remember that nothing is void of God and without God, but that everything is filled with life granted by the Creator, then, in all we see, we see the living power of the Creator and hear God’s living voice.  That is the meaning of the words: “The tree of life in the midst of the garden.”  Those who cling to the life of God are in the midst of the garden.[12]



A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew


Jesus taught them saying, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything, but it is thrown out and trampled under foot.


“You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works a give glory to your Father in heaven.”




From the Proslogion of Saint Anselm


Lord, my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you, where and how to find you.  Lord, if you are not here, where shall I look for you in your absence?  Yet if you are everywhere, why do I not see you when you are present?  But surely you dwell in “light inaccessible.”  And where is light inaccessible?  How shall I approach light inaccessible?  Or who will lead me and bring me into it that I may see you there?  And then, by what signs and under what forms shall I seek you?  I have never seen you, Lord my God; I do not know your face.

                What shall this exile do, so far from you?  What shall your servant do, tormented by love of you and cast so far from your face?  I yearn to see you, and your face is too far from me.  I desire to approach you, and your dwelling is unapproachable.  I long to find you, and do not know your dwelling place.  I strive to look for you, and do not know your face.

                Look upon us, Lord, hear us and enlighten us, show us your very self!

(Cap. 1: Opera omnia)



from the poems of Kabir


O servant, where do you seek me?

Lo! I am beside you.

I am neither in temple nor in mosque:

I am neither in Kaaba nor in Kailash:

neither am I in rites and ceremonies,

nor in Yoga and renunciation.

If you are a true seeker,

you shall see Me at once:

you shall meet Me in a moment of time.


Kabir says, ‘O Sadhu!  God is the breath of all breath!”




From Deliverance from Error by Al Ghazali


The complete mystic way includes both intellectual belief and practical activity; the latter consists in getting rid of the obstacles in the self and in stripping off its base characteristics and vicious morals, so that the heart may attain to freedom from what is not God and to constant recollection of God.  What is most distinctive of mysticism is something that cannot be apprehended by study, but only by dhawg––tasting, by ecstasy and by a moral change.  What a difference there is between being acquainted with the definition of drunkenness––namely that it designates a state arising from the domination of the seat of the intellect by vapors arising from the stomach––and being drunk!  Indeed, the one who is in the condition of being drunk does not know the definition of drunkenness, nor the scientific account of it; they have not the very least scientific knowledge of it.  Someone who is sober, on the other hand, knows the definition of drunkenness and its basis, yet is not drunk in the very least.  Again, doctors, when they themselves are ill, know the definition and causes of health and the remedies to restore it, and yet are lacking in health.  Similarly, there is a difference between knowing the true nature and causes and conditions of the ascetic life, and actually leading such a life and forsaking the world.

(Part Three, #3)[14]



From the Prayers of the Sikhs


O Great Lord, of depth infathomable,

ocean of virtues!

Who knows the bounds of your shores?

All the contemplatives have met

and sought to contemplate you;

all the weighers of worth have met

and sought to weigh your worth;

all the theologians and mystics,

all the preachers and their teachers

have not been able to grasp one jot of your greatness.

All truths, all fervent austerities, every excellent act,

every sublime acheivment of the adepts,

are your gifts, O Lord:

without you, no one could achieve perfection;

but where you have granted your grace to someone,

nothing can stand in their way.

How vain are the words of those that seek to praise you,

your treasuries are already filled with your praises.

Those to whom you give freely,

what should they do but praise you?


Nanak says:

The True One is the one from whom all perfection springs.

(Evening Prayer #2)


A Reading from the Kena Upanishad


What has called the mind to fly?

What has made the breath move? 

Who urges on the speech that people utter?

What god has opened the eye and the ear?


It lives in all that lives,

the ear of the ear,

the mind of the mind,

the speech of speech,

the eye of the eye.

The wise by not clinging,

renounce the world and become immortal.


Eye and tongue cannot approach it, nor can the mind know;

We do not know, we do not understand.

It lies beyond the known, and beyond the unknown.

Thus have we heard from those of old who have explained it to us.


That by which speech is expressed––not what is expressed by speech––

that alone is God, not what they worship as such.

That by which the mind is thought of––not what is thought of by the mind––

that alone is God, not what they worship as such.

That by which the eye sees––not what is seen by the eye––

that alone is God, not what they worship as such.

That by which the ear is heard––not what is heard by the ear––

that alone is God, not what they worship as such.

That by which breath is breathed––not what is breathed by the breath––

that alone is God, not what they worship as such.




A Reading from the Bhagavad Gita


One should sit for meditation,

restraining all senses, concentrating the mind,

devoting heart and soul to me.

Those who control their senses have a stable mind.


Those who do not turn the mind away

get attached to what the senses tell them.

Attachment gives rise to desire,

desire gives rise to anger.

Anger leads to infatuation,

infatuation distorts one’s memory.

Distortion of memory leads to loss of reason,

and then complete ruin.


But the self-controlled roam the sensual world

with senses under control,

freed from likes and dislikes;

they attain to peace of mind.

In peace of mind, all sorrows come to an end,

for the judgment of the clear-minded is unerringly steadfast.[15]




A Reading from the Tao te Ching


Bestowing no honors prevents quarreling,

prizing no treasures prevents stealing,

displaying no attractions prevents confusion.

Therefore the wise rule by emptying the mind but filling the stomach,

weakening aspirations but strengthening bones.

When people lack knowledge or desire,

the learned will not dare to act.


If nothing is done, all will be well.




A Reading from the Samyutta Nikaya


                One who has considered all the contrasts of this earth, and is no more disturbed by anything whatever in the world, the Peaceful One, freed from rage, from sorrow, and from longing, has passed beyond birth and decay.

                This I call neither arising, nor passing away, neither standing still, nor being born, nor dying.  There is neither foothold, nor development, nor any basis.  This is the end of suffering.

                Hence, the purpose of the Holy Life does not consist in acquiring alms, honor, or fame, nor in gaining morality, concentration, or the eye of knowledge.  The unsakable deliverance of the heart: that, indeed, is the object of the Holy Life, that is its essence, that is its goal.[16]



A Reading from the Dhammapada


A careless person,

quoting much of the scriptural text but not living it,

cannot sahre the abundance of the holy life,

just as the cowsherd, counting other people’s cattle,

cannot taste the milk or ghee.


Reciting a small portion of the scriptures,

but putting it diligently into practice;

letting go of passion, aggression, and confusion;

revering the truth with a clear mind;

and not clinging to anything, her or hereafter;

brings the harvest of a holy life.




A Reading from the Book of Exodus


Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.  Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”  When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  Then he said, “Come no closer!  Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing in holy ground.”  He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

                Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of our ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, “what is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”  God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”  He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this is my title for all generations.”

(Exodus 3:1-6, 13-14, 15c)



From the Sayings of the Hassidim


God says to us as he said to Moses: “Put off your shoes from off your feet”––put off the habitual which encloses your foot and you will recognize that the place on which you happen to be standing at this moment is holy ground.  For there is not rung of being on which we cannot find the holiness of God everywhere and at all times.[18]



A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew


Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.  So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”




From a Sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus


In all the events we have recalled, the flame of divine love enkindled human hearts and its intoxication overflowed into human[19] senses.  Wounded by love, they longed to look upon God with their bodily eyes.  Yet how could our narrow human vision apprehend God, whom the whole world cannot contain?  But the law of love is not concerned with what will be, what ought to be, what can be.  Love does not reflect; it is unreasonable and knows no moderation.  Love refuses to be consoled when its goal proves impossible, despises all hinderances to the attainment of its object.  Love destroys lovers if the cannot obtain what they love;[20] love follows it own promptings, and does not think of right and wrong.  Love inflames desire which impels it toward things that are forbidden.

                It is intolerable for love not to see the object of its longing.  That is why whatever reward they merited was nothing to the saints if they could not see the Lord.  A love that desires to see God may not have reasonableness on its side, but it is the evidence of filial love.  It gave Moses the temerity to say: If I have found favor in your eyes, show me your face.  It inspired the psalmist to make the same prayer: Show me your face.

(Sermo 147)



From the Poems of Rumi


Looking at my life

I see that only love

has been my soul’s companion.

From deep inside

my soul cries our:
Do not wait, surrender

for the sake of Love. [21]

Rubaiyat #42



From Deliverance from Error by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali


I learned with certainty that it is above all the mystics who walk on the road of God; their life is the best life, their method the soundest method, their character the purest character; indeed, were the intellect of the intellectuals and the learning of the learned and the scholarship of the scholars, who are versed in the profundities of revealed truth, brought together in the attempt to improve the life and character of the mystics, they would find no way of doing so; for to the mystics all movement and all rest, whether external or internal, brings illumination from the light of the lamp of prophetic revelation; and behind the light of prophetic revelation there is no other light on the face of the earth from which illumination may be received.

(Part Three, #3)[22]



From the Prayers of the Sikhs


In the house in which people sing the Lord’s praises

and meditate upon him,

in that house sing the songs of praise

and remember the Creator!

Sing the song of praise of your fearless Lord!

Let me be a sacrifice unto that song

by which we attain everlasting solace.


Day by day, ever and ever,

the Lord watches over his living creatures;

the Bountiful Giver looks after one and all.

Who can set a price on his gifts,

or say how great he is?


The year and the sacred day for the wedding is fixed.

Comrades!  Pour oil at the door to welcome the bride!

Give me your blessings, O friends;

I depart for my union with God.


The summons is sent to every house,

to every soul, every day, it is issued.

Remember, O Nanak, the one who sends the summons.

The day is not far when you also may hear it.[23]

A Reading from the Kena Upanishad


If you think, ‘I know it well,’

you know just a little of the form of Brahman––

that part of it which is you and that part of it which among the gods. 

I think you should investigate that unknown:


I do not think, ‘I know it well.’

Nor that I do not know;

I know and I do not know as well.


Whoever among us says, “I know,” knows nothing;

but those who claim nothing, know.


It is known by one to whom it is unknown;

the one by whom it is known––that one does not know.

It is not known by those who know well;

It is known by those who do not know.


It is really known when it is realized by awakening to it:

whereby one gains immortality.

Through one’s own self[24] one finds power:

through wisdom one finds immortality.


If, one has realized it here, there is truth;

if one has not known it here––great destruction!
The wise having realized it in every being

and renounced the world, become immortal.




A Reading from the Bhagavad Gita


Those who have not controlled the mind and senses have no reason,

nor can they think of God.

And there is no peace for one such as this.

Without peace, how can there be happiness for them?


For when one allows one’s mind to be attached to the senses,

it destroys one’s judgment like a storm destroys a ship.


Therefore, having the senses withdrawn from their objects

means attaining a steadfast judgment.


Just as the sea gathers the waters,

so that it fills yet remains undisturbed,

so those also find peace

into whom desires flow without disturbance

––not those who go after desires.


Those who have given up all desire

and move about free from attachment,

who have overcome ego,

find peace.


This is divine realization.

Whoever reaches it is has overcome delusion.

Whoever abides in it, even in the final moment,

gains the bliss[25] of brahman.

(2:66-68, 70-72)



A Reading from the Tao Te Ching


The Tao is an empty vessel;

it is used but never filled.

and so deep

it is the source of ten thousand things.

Blunting the sharpness,

untying the knot,

softening the glare,

merging with the dust.

hidden deep but ever present.

I do not know whose child it is.

It was here before the emperors.




A Reading from the Samyutta Nikaya


What, now, is the Noble Truth of the Path that leads to the extinction of suffering?

                To give oneself up to the indulgence in sensual pleasure, the base, common, vulgar, unholy, unprofitable; or to give oneself up to self-mortification, the painful, unholy, unprofitable: both these two extremes, the Perfect One had avoided, and has found out the Middle Path, which makes one both see and know, whish leads to peace, to discernment, to Nirvana.

                It is the Noble Eightfold Path, the way that leads to the extinction of suffering, namely: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.  This is the Middle Path which the Perfect One has found out, which makes one both see and know, which leads to peace, to discernment, to enlightenment.[26]



A Reading from the Dhammapada


Mindfulness is the path to immortality.

Negligence is the path to death.

The vigilant never die,

whereas the negligent are the living dead.


With this understanding, the wise,

having developed a high degree of mindfulness,

rejoice in mindfulness,

dellightig in the domain of the Noble Ones.


These awakened ones,

dedicated to meditation,

striving actively and vigorously,

attain nirvana, the ultimate security.


The fame and fortune of the one who is vigorous,

aware, unsullied,

acting with consideration and restraint,

become ever growing.


The wise,

by vigor, mindfulness, restraint, and self-control,

create for themselves an island

which no flood can submerge.


Don’t lose yourself in negligence!

Don’t lose yourself in sensuality!

For it is the mindful and meditative

who will experience supreme happiness.




A Reading from the Book of Exodus


Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain saying: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow.  Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”

                On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightening, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a last of trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled.  Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire… Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”  Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

(Ex 19:3a, 10-11, 16, 18a; 20:20-21)



From the Sayings of the Hasidim


We do not know even how we are supposed to pray.  All we do is call for help because of the need of the moment. But what the soul intends is spiritual need, only we are not able to express what the soul means.  That is why we do not merely ask God to hear our call for help, but also beg him, who knows what is hidden, to hear the silent cry of the soul.[28]



A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew


Jesus said,

‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

                ‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

                ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.




From a Treatise by Saint Hippolytus


When we have come to know the true God, both our bodies and our souls will be immortal and incorruptible.  We shall enter the kingdom of heaven, because while we lived on earth we acknowledged heaven’s King.  Friends of God and coheirs with Christ, we shall be subject to no evil desires or inclinations, or to any affliction of body or soul, for we shall have become divine.  It was because of our human condition that God allowed us to endure these things, but when we have been deified and made immortal, God has promised us a share in his own attributes.

                The saying “Know thyself” means therefore that we should recognize in ourselves the God who made us in his own image, for if we do this, we in turn will be recognized and acknowledged by our Maker.[29]



From Deliverance from Error by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali


In general, how is a tariqah–mystic way described?  The purity that is the first condition of it is the purification of the heart completely from what is other than God most high; the key to it, which corresponds to the opening act of adoration in prayer, is the sinking of the heart completely in the recollection of God; and the end of it is complete fana–absorption in God.  At least this is its end relative to those first steps which almost come within the sphere of choice and personal responsibility; but in reality in the mystic way it is the first step, what comes before it being, as it were, the ante-chamber for those who are junreying towards it.

                With this first step of the way there begin revelations and visions.  The mystics in their waking state now behold angels and the spirits of the prophets; they hear these speaking to them and are instructed by them.  Later, a higher state is reached; instead of beholding forms and figures, the come to stages in the way which it is hard to describe in language; if one attempts to express these, words inevitably contain what is erroneous.

(Part Three, #3)[30]



From the Poems of Mirabai


The colors of the dark one have penetrated Mira’s body;

all the other colors have washed out.

Making love with the Dark One and eating little,

those are my pearls and my carnelians.

Meditation beads and the forehead streak,

those are my scarves and my rings.

That’s enough feminine wiles for me.

My teacher taught me this.

Approve me or disapprove me:
I praise the Mountain Energy night and day.

I take the path that ecstatic human beings have taken for centuries.

I don’t steal money, I don’t hit anyone.

What will you charge me with?

I have felt the swaying of the elephant’s shoulders;

and now you want me to climb on a jackass?

Try to be serious![31]



From the Prayers of the Sikhs


Those who believe in power, sing of God’s power.

Others chant of God’s gifts as messages and emblems.

Sone sing of God’s greatness and gracious acts.

Some sing of God’s wisdom, so hard to understand.

Some sing of God as the fashioner of the body.

Destroying what he has fashioned, others praise God

for taking away life and restoring it anew.

Some proclaim God’s existence to be distant,

desperately far from us.

Others sing to God as here and there

a Presence meeting us face to face.


To sing truly of the transcendent Lord

would exhaust all vocabularies,

all human powers of expression.

Myriads have sung of God in innumerable strains.

God’s gifts flow in such plenitude

that we weary of receiving what he bestows.

Age to age unending we live on God’s bounty.

Carefree, O Nanak, the Glorious Lord smiles.[32]

A Reading from the Kena Upanishad


Its instruction is this.

It is like a flash of lightning

or like the winkling of the eye.

This is it in the divine aspect.


Then the instruction through analogy on the aspect of the individual self:

the mind seems to attain to It,

that It is continually remembered by the mind,

and that the mind possesses the thought.

That brahman is known indeed as Tadvana––adorable to all beings;

that is to be worshipped as Tadvana.                     

To those who know It thus all beings pray.


Revered sir, speak Upanishad to me.


I have spoken Upanishad to you!

Of brahman truly is the Upanishad that I have spoken.

Of this knowledge austerity, self-restraint and action are the feet,

the Vedas are all limbs

and truth is the abode.




A Reading from the Bhagavad Gita


At the beginning of time

I declared two paths of of spiritual discipline:

jnana yoga, the path of spiritual wisdom,

and karma yoga, the path of action.


Those who shirk action do not attain freedom;

nor can gain one perfection by abstaining from work.

Indeed, no one is inactive even for an instant;

all creatures are driven to action by their own nature.


Those who abstain from action

while allowing the mind to dwell on sensual pleasure

are deluded; their conduct is pointless.

But they who control their senses through the mind

and follow the path of action unattached, excel.


Fulfill your duties;

action is better than inaction.

You are obliged to act

even to maintain your body.

The world is enslaved by action

except when it is performed as a sacrifice.

Therefore, perform your duty,

free from attachment, for the sake of sacrifice.




A Reading from the Dhammapada


The flickering, fickle mind,

difficult to guard, difficult to control,

the wise straighten, as a fletcher an arrow.


Like a fish that is drawn from its watery home

and thrown upon dry land,

even so does the mind flutter,

due to the lure of the tempter

Hence should the realm of Mara be shunned.


It is good to control the mind, which is

hard to check and capricious,

rushing wherever it wants.

A controlled mind leads to happiness.


Straying far and wandering wide,

alone and bodiless is the mind.

Those who subdue it are freed from the tyranny of Mara.[33]




From the Writings of Dogen-zenji


In the Buddha Dharma, practice and realization are on and the same.  As your present practice is practice within realization, your initial negotiation of the Way is in itself the whole of original realization.  That is why from the time you are instructed in the way of practice, you are told not to anticipate realization apart from practice.  It is because practice points to original realization.

from Bedowa[34]



A Reading from the Book of Exodus


Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.

                Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.  The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses from out of the cloud.  Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.  Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain.  Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

24:9-10; 15-18



From the Writings of the Hassidim


Everyone should pity their body and allow it to share in all that illumines the soul.  We must purify the body very greatly so that it may share in everything the soul receives, so that there may be a change in the present state where the soul attains to lofty matters and the body knows nothing about them.  But if the body is given a share, it can also be of use to the soul.  For, at times, the soul falls from its rung, and then the purified body can help it up again through the power of the light it has absorbed.  That is why Job says: “From my flesh shall I see God.”[35]



A Reading from the Holy Gospel According to Matthew


And Jesus said:

‘Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

                ‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

                ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

                ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.




From the Writings of Evagrius of Pontus


When the mind––having stripped of the old man––has been re-clothed in the new one who comes from grace, then it will see its state, at the time of prayer, similar to sapphire or the color of the sky.  This is what Scripture describes as the ‘place of God,’ what ancients saw on Mount Sinai.

Peri logismon 39[36]



From Deliverance from Error by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali


In general, what mystics manage to achieve is nearness to God; some, however, would conceive of this as hulul–inherence, some as ittihad–union, and some as wusul–connection.  All that is erroneous. Those who have attained the mystic state need do no more than say:


Of the things I do not remember, what was, was.

Think it good; do not ask an account of it.[37]


The miraculous powers given to the saints are in truth the beginning of the prophets; and that was the first state of the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) when he went out to Mount Hira, and was given up entirely to his Lord, and worshiped, so that the Bedouin said, “Muhammad loves his Lord passionately.”




From the Poems of Rumi


Deafened by the voice of desire

you are unaware the Beloved

lives in the core of your heart.

Stop the noise,

and you will hear His voice

in the silence.[39]


Imitating others,

I failed to find myself.

I looked inside and discovered

I only knew my name.

When I stepped outside

I found my real Self. [40]



From the Prayers of the Sikhs


That Being is Pure, without stain,

infinite and beyond comprehension.

All worship to you, all bow to you,

you who are Truth and the Creator!

All creatures are yours, you provide for all of them.

O saint, meditate on the Lord who makes sorrow be forgotten.

That One alone is the Lord,

that One alone is the worshipper.

O Nanak, how insignificant are we mortals!


You, O Lord, O One Supreme Being!

You are in every heart and soul,

you pervade all things.

Some beg for alms, some bestow them:

all this is the great game You play.

It is you who give and enjoy the gift;

I know of none other than You.

You are the utterly transcendent:
Infinite are You!  Infinite are You!


How can I describe your attributes?

Unto those who truly serve and worship you

Nanak is a humble sacrifice.

They who think on You,

they who meditate on You,

have their peace in this dark place.

They who think on you,

they are saved, they are liberated;

for them death’s noose is broken.

[1] or “breath,” lit. matarisva

[2] Literally yoga.

[3] Tao=”way”

[4] trans. Nyanatiloka

[5] Trans. Ananda Maitreya

[6] From Martin Buber, Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings, p. 38

[7] Trans. Kabir Helminski

[8] adapted for inclusive language

[9] Trans. Montgomery Watt

[10] trans. Nyanatiloka

[11] trans. Ananda Maitreya

[12] Adapted from Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings, by Martin Buber, p. 39.

[13] based on Tagore’s translation

[14] adapted for inclusive language

[15] “…firmly established in God”?

[16] trans. Nyanatiloka

[17] Trans. Ananda Maitreya

[18] Adapted from Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings by Martin Buber, p. 15

[19] adapted for inclusive language

[20] adapted for inclusive language

[21] trans. Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi

[22] Trans. Montgomery Watt

[23] adapted for inclusive language

[24] lit. “atman”

[25] lit. nirvana

[26] trans. Nyanatiloka

[27] Trans. Ananda Maitreya, adapted for inclusive language

[28] From Buber Rungs, 27

[29] From “On the Refutation of All Heresies,” Cap. 10, 33-34

[30] slightly altered for inclusive language

[31] Robert Bly’s version in Stephen Mitchell’s The Enlightened Heart, slightly altered.

[32] adapted for inclusive language

[33] Mara=the Hindu god of pestilence and disease; in Buddhism the terrifying, seductive opponent of the Buddha.

[34] Trans. Normal Waddell and Masao Abe in The Heart of Dogen’s Shobogenzo, (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2002), p. 8

[35] In Buber Rungs, 71-72

[36] trans. William Harmless, S.J., in Mystics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 152.

[37] Hamid al-Ghazali is quoting Ibn al-Mu’tazz

[38] Trans. Montgomery Watt

[39] trans. Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi

[40] trans. Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi